When Danyelle Snelgro, an assistant on the University of Utah women’s basketball staff, was scouting an AAU tournament in Walnut Creek, California, the game she had her eye on reached a break in the action. So Snelgro looked over to the adjacent court, where a player she had never heard of immediately caught her eye.
It was Gig Harbor’s Brynna Maxwell, and she was only in eighth grade.
Utah’s recruitment of Maxwell, one of the nation’s top players and the Class 3A modern-era state tournament total points record holder in Washington, began that day. They were the first school to show interest in her, the first school to call her and the first school to offer her a scholarship.
Now, Maxwell, who had offers from much of the Pac-12 conference, is verbally committing to Utah, picking the Utes over the University of Washington, Gonzaga and others.
“I have a really good relationship with the coaching staff,” said Maxwell, who will be a senior in the fall. “I really connected with the team. I really believe in their vision for the program. It’s a program on the rise.”
The Utes are coached by Lynne Roberts, who has posted two 18-win seasons in her three years at the helm of the program and has a 52-44 overall record. Maxwell took her official visit to the school in April and announced her commitment on June 2 on Twitter.
“I wanted to go to a school where I was a priority,” she said. “They always believed in me.”
The cliché in recruiting, “When you know, you know” rang true for Maxwell. Her moment of clarity came while sitting near the water by her house, praying and weighing her options.
“I just kept thinking how excited I was about Utah,” she said. “I just really want to play there. That would just by dream.”
Roberts and the Utah coaching staff told Maxwell they valued her versatility and scoring ability. Maxwell won’t be guaranteed a starting spot, by any means, but she’ll have the chance to compete for playing time right away.
“You can never guarantee that,” Maxwell said. “I want to have to compete for that spot. I’m looking forward to just being in the middle of it all.”
In her junior season at Gig Harbor High, Maxwell averaged 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4.6 steals per game, leading the Tides to a state championship.
Maxwell said she fell in love with the Utah campus, also.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s surrounded by mountains. It’s big but doesn’t feel too big. It’s just a great campus. And they just got new facilities, which are probably the best in the Pac-12.”
Maxwell still has one more season at Gig Harbor High, where she will likely continue her onslaught of the school records book. The recruiting noise will come to a halt, and Maxwell can focus on doing what she does best: Playing basketball.
She said there’s still more to her game that she wants to improve.
“I want to work on my on-ball defense, finishing through contact and getting to the line more, and getting stronger,” Maxwell said.